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Word Count: 926
England has always had a proud tradition of excellence at its universities up and down the country notably the distinguished Oxbridge institution ie Oxford and Cambridge Many ex-scholars from a wide range of academic backgrounds have gone on to achieve excellence in the fields of medicine politics science even sport and comedy Some of the finest minds in the world have been nurtured and produced in this country For all the history and splendour of the English university system there has always been a cross-section of society unable to take advantage of the world-class education on offer Historically only the students seen as capable of distinguishing the universities splendid legacies were even chosen from the ones who could afford to apply in the first place Without making a sweeping generalisation this has carried on through the centuries with mainly the middle and upper classes going through Higher Education Only 25 of young entrants were from social classes IIIM skilled manual IV semi-skilled and V unskilled In addition only 12 of young full-time entrants and 14 of mature full-time entrants came from low participation neighbourhoods According to the latest Performance Indicators published by The Higher Education Funding Council for England HEFCE across the UK in 1999 httpwwwprospectsacukcmsShowPageHomepageThegraduatejobmarketIndeptharticlesandsurveysWideningparticipationinhighereducationSpring02peLaaig Especially since the Tory Government decided to abolish student grants just before the Labour party came into power a large percentage of students coming out of further education simply could not afford to go to university despite their ability and qualifications After paying off tuition fees and taking out student loans a three-year course at university can sometimes cost up to 12000 and more In 2000 one of the biggest debates over the university admissions system in English history was sparked off This followed a decision by Oxford University to deny Laura Spence a pupil at a comprehensive school in Tyne Wear a place at its insititution
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